WASHINGTON — Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell says he and the White House have agreed on preventing tax hikes that the “fiscal cliff” will trigger after midnight. And he says they are very close to an overall deal that would also prevent budget-wide spending cuts.
The Kentucky Republican did not provide any details. But he said on the Senate floor that lawmakers should pass legislation averting tax increases that would otherwise take effect at the start of New Year’s Day.
McConnell spoke after President Barack Obama said in televised remarks from the White House that a deal was in sight.
Update: Here’s a transcript of McConnell’s remarks on the Senate floor, provided by his office.
“Yesterday, after days of inaction, I came to the floor and noted we needed to act, but that I needed a dance partner. So I reached out to the Vice President in an effort to get things done.
“I’m happy to report that the effort has been a successful one and as the President just said, we are very close to an agreement.
“We need to protect American families and job creators from this looming tax hike. Everyone agrees that action is necessary. And I can report that we’ve reached an agreement on the all the tax issues.
“We are very, very close.
“As the President just said, the most important piece, the piece that has to be done NOW, is preventing the tax hikes. He said: “for now our most immediate priority is to stop taxes going up for middle class families starting tomorrow.” He suggested that action on the sequester is something we can continue to work on in the coming months.
“So I agree, let’s pass the tax relief portion now. Let’s take what’s been agreed to and get moving. The President wants this, members of Congress want to protect taxpayers, and we can get it done now.
“Let me be clear: We will continue to work on finding smarter ways to cut spending, but let’s not let that hold up protecting Americans from the tax hike that will take place in about 10 hours.
“We can do this. We must do this.
“I want my colleagues to know that we’ll keep everyone updated.”